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Workers' compensation: Employers refuse protection for roofers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety rules covering roof workers in Florida. However, the agency says there has been an 80 percent increase over the past two years in the number of citations issued in the Jacksonville area for contractors allowing employees to do roof work without the required fall protection. Falls are said to be the cause of a significant percentage of all workers' compensation claims.

A group of investigative journalists recently took to the road in an unmarked vehicle and visited 20 homes at which workers were repairing roofs. They say that they found workers wearing fall protection at only three of those work sites. The workers at the 17 other homes risked their lives by working on the roofs without any protection.

Reportedly, some of the roofers said that fall harnesses restrict their movements and slow them down. The news crew says contractors believe that they would need twice as long to complete every job if they followed all the OSHA regulations. One contractor allegedly said that he had been penalized by OSHA for noncompliance in the past, but he is prepared to take his chances. He would rather pay the fines than provide workers with fall protection.

Although injured workers in Florida are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, some circumstances could allow them to hold their employers responsible for gross negligence. In cases such as these in which employers knowingly endanger employees, injured workers might have grounds for personal injury lawsuits apart from any workers' comp claims. An attorney who has experience in both fields of the law can explain how more than medical expenses and lost wages could be recovered.

Source:, "Cost of roofers breaking the law could fall back on homeowners", Jenna Bourne, Feb. 8, 2018

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